Walls that Teach

“In this house the walls will teach,” declared the Soviet news agency Pravda at the inauguration of the Moscow Palace of Young Pioneers in 1962. This statement casually formulates what has become a recurring motif in the history of architecture for the young: the claim to educate through built environment. Young people were considered ideal targets for this approach of social constructivism because of their status of ambivalence: objects of social rights, but not yet subjects of political rights. The organisation of youth centres around leisure activities partially concealed their educational goals, and consequently led to them being all the more pervasive. The pedagogical power of their architecture is found not only in their design, but also in the modes of its usage, appropriation, and inhabitation.

Containing 14 essays and 25 case studies, this book traces the ideological manifestations that have surrounded the pedagogical architecture of youth centres throughout the 20th century.